Michigan sideline reporter Doug Karsch saw the Wolverines' unlikely ending unfold up close on Saturday afternoon. As usual, he found himself privy to plenty of interesting tidbits.
On junior quarterback Devin Gardner: "I was really, really impressed by him last week, and I saw nothing different in this game.
"I witnessed one interesting exchange, when things looked like they were getting bad. Michigan was down 24-14, it was early in the second half, Northwestern had scored twice, and Michigan's offense had been nothing but three-and-outs.
"Devin is on the sidelines, not anywhere close to panic. He looked very confident, kind of laughing with Denard [Robinson], and I believe [Taylor] Lewan. It just struck me there was a level of comfort he had, where he wasn't panicking, even though offensively, Michigan had done nothing in the second half and Northwestern had gone right down the field.
"There still seemed to be confidence that they would get the job done."
On Michigan's defensive issues against the option: "These option teams, Michigan just struggles with. You're looking for speed out of the linebacker position, and we saw more of James Ross than we've seen in the previous weeks, and Joe Bolden.
"They've got some personnel to deal with it. It's just young personnel. I give them credit for coming up with stops when they needed them.
"After they gave up the fourth-and-short, to still get Northwestern off the field when they did
and then obviously, in overtime, some film study and a little Xs and Os would tell you that was a pretty awesome defensive call, to bait Northwestern into doing what they did. That was a play that had absolutely no chance.
"Michigan was basically begging them to run away from their strength. I think it was a brilliant call by [Greg] Mattison.
"Jordan Kovacs told me after that game that in the huddle, Mattison asked Kovacs and the guys in general, 'What do you want to do?' Kovacs wanted to blitz them.
"Mattison said, 'Okay,' and then called the other play anyway. It was funny. That made Kovacs laugh."
On the fourth-down play that replays seemed to reveal a Michigan stop: "It was really hard to tell, from our perspective on the field, where the ball was. [Kain] Colter's back was turned towards me, so I couldn't get a real sense of where the football should be spotted.
"On the replays, his back was toward the camera. That was one where a reverse angle really might have been able to provide some insight as to how far that ball went.
"What I know is, James Ross blew up the play. It was obviously inches away from being enough to get the ball back. But you know what? Again, I'm just watching them, and I don't know if it's unusual, but nobody was pouting just yet. Nobody looked defeated, even after that fourth-down play.
"Maybe inside they felt that way, but they certainly didn't show it outwardly. I was watching specifically for a reaction. There wasn't a whole lot of obvious resignation."
On the long pass to Roy Roundtree, setting up the game-tying field goal: "I thought there was going to be a flag. But I just saw a great individual effort by Roundtree. The sidelines exploded. They had to get about the business of spiking the football and getting the kicker on.
"Once again, [Drew] Dileo made a great hold. I wonder if, deep down, there is not more pressure on [kicker Brendan] Gibbons on that kick than some others, because this is a chip shot. He's made some pretty big kicks, and there have been some longer ones.
"Obviously, the Michigan State kick was big, and that was a big deal. With this one, you have to go out and do what everybody expects you to do, every single time. That's a different type of pressure.
"That kid's story is incredible. He is money this year. You can't say enough about the job they have done, because he's kicking it long and true. If you would have asked me to predict that a couple of years ago, I would not have."
On the overtime meeting with officials: "After he'd made that field goal, they went out for the coin flip. Kovacs' demeanor during the coin flip just said everything about the confidence they had.
"They lost the toss, and then the ref tried to give Northwestern both decisions. Kovacs said, 'Wait, wait, wait! We get to choose.' Then the conviction with which he said, 'We're going to play at that end right there,' told me everything I needed to know about what was going to happen.
"It seemed like, 'We know we got this.'"
"It was a great line. They should make student T-shirts about 'That end right there.' It should be known as 'That end right there.'"
On fifth-year senior linebacker Kenny Demens, after making the game-clinching stop: "He got mobbed by his teammates, and he said he had to get out of there. He knew they were going to be all over him, and he didn't want to get trampled.
"Immediately after that play, I had a chance to talk to him, and he said, 'Look, I gave up some big plays earlier,' like the touchdown pass from [Northwestern quarterback Trevor] Siemian where he got beat by a slot receiver. I'm sure that's what he was thinking of. He made the play on third down and fourth down there.
"I get a sense that if there is one position on this team that has come the farthest under this regime, it's the linebacker position. I am of the opinion that was an area of great concern for them. I would guess they are, as a staff, extremely pleased with how far those linebackers have come."
On a final observation: "On Roundtree's catch, I'm on the sidelines, getting ready to go on the air postgame, and thinking, what's the story of this game? What ultimately cost Michigan this game?
"What popped into my head was two turnovers in Northwestern territory. Specifically, [Fitzgerald] Toussaint's fumble, that popped right up into Roundtree's hands.
"Roy didn't recover it. I thought that's probably the single-biggest play in this game. Given Michigan's sudden red zone proficiency, that's seven points taken off the board.
"I asked Roy about it after the game, and he said he was getting ready to block. The last thing he expected to see was the ball popping up into his hands. But then to come through with that catch, it kind of came full circle and made up for it."
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